Positivity in a Job Search

February 18, 2014

Image of a chalk board with different colored post-it notes spelling out "Positivity"Looking for a job can be an incredibly frustrating task. Today, individuals often find themselves anxiously searching for positions that will be a good fit within a very competitive market.  Inevitably, rejection is an unavoidable aspect of a job search. Negativity can also be compounded by self-doubt. Maybe you worry that you don’t have enough to offer a new employer or maybe you worry that you will be unsuccessful in finding work that is meaningful to you personally.

Negativity can be internalized and then it can seep out during the worst times, like during a big interview. Employers are keen at sniffing out desperation, bad attitudes, and poor self-esteem.  Interview questions are intentionally designed to gauge many of these dimensions.  So, how can you turn around a job search that has gone awry?

If you have been feeling negative about your job search (or anything really), explore one of the better-known books in positive psychology research. One book in particular that is available for check-out from the OITE Library in Building 2 is Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life, by Martin E. P. Seligman, 2006. This book includes self-tests and exercises to assist you with assessing (and hopefully increasing) your happiness at work and in life.

This book goes into detail about how you can begin to train yourself to think more positively. If you are feeling stressed by the thought of adding another book to your reading list, here are some key points for you to utilize in the meantime:

1. Your language matters. Negative self-talk has a direct impact on subsequent thoughts and behaviors. When you find yourself saying things like, “I would love that job, but I am not qualified,” try to force yourself to reframe it in a more positive light, such as: “I would love that job, and I will find a way to gain the necessary skills.” Simple semantics like replacing the “but” with “and” helps put the locus of control back to you.

2.  Re-live past wins. One negative thought can lead you down a spiral of negativity. The same is true for positivity.  Make a list of all your accomplishments, both big and small, so when you start feeling negatively, you can have a visual reminder of all the things you have done well.

3. Reward yourself.  Take your job search seriously and set daily or weekly goals to track your progress.  When you’ve reached a goal, reward yourself. Celebrating small successes along the way can help positively reinforce that behavior and hopefully keep you motivated.

4.  Take responsibility. Others cannot control your happiness. While things can be really tough, only you can make the choice to focus on the positive by using the tips above.


Utilizing Google Alerts in a Job Search

December 3, 2013

Google Alerts* will email you results from various saved searches. You can customize the type and frequency of your emailed search results depending on your personal preferences. It is a free tool to use and you can save up to ten different alerts (1,000 if you have a Google account). Many businesses, especially public relations representatives, often use such alerts to keep abreast of news stories about their company’s competitors, trademarks, etc. Google Alerts can help you during a job search as well.

Here are some alerts job seekers should set up:

1. Your Name
Your online reputation often precedes your first face-to-face impression. Any job you apply for will research you online. By this point in time, you have probably Googled yourself (if not, do so immediately!). However, make sure you stay up to date about what is published online about you by creating an alert with your name.

2. Companies of Interest
Hopefully, you have identified and targeted a few key employers of interest. Keep tabs on them by creating a search query with just their name, such as “NIH” or “National Institutes of Health.” Note: you may need to save a few different variations of the same name to help account for acronyms and labeling differences.

You should also set up a search query “Jobs (Company Name)” which will email you pages where these two key words appear jointly. Keep in mind that it might not actually be a page with open jobs; however, it could give you a heads up about staffing changes which could help inform your job search. Ultimately, the goal is to draw your attention to news stories that might be beneficial for one reason or another in your search.

3. Jobs in Your Location
If you are focusing on a specific geographic area, you can create a search such as “Maryland (“new jobs”)” or “Gaithersburg (“new business”).” Remember to use the same tools and tricks that you normally employ when using a search engine. For example, quotes will ensure that your phrase is searched exactly as it is written – not parsed out word by word.

4. Set an Industry Alert
Interested in a specific industry? Set a search query according to your interests; some example might be “biotechnology” or “pharmaceuticals.”

5. Keep Tabs on Key People
Wonder when your former PI’s paper is going to be published? Curious where your previous lab mate now works? Set a search and get notified about your network’s accomplishments, especially those social media shy folks. This can be a great way to stay in the know and keep connected with people who are important to you and your career.

Like saved job search agents, Google Alerts can help alleviate some of the leg work of job searching and it is an easy way to stay up to date on topics of importance to you and your job search. Please comment on what other alert systems you have found helpful during a job search.


* Disclaimer: The online resource noted in this post is merely informative and does not constitute an endorsement by NIH OITE.